The Field Sampling Database is a tool I put together because I dislike fieldbooks (possibly because my handwriting is awful 😀 ). In some cases, custom databases running on mobile devices can be a more effective tool for collecting field data. Data can be structured, to make sure no observations are missed, and additional information such as photographs and coordinates can be recorded directly into the database. No transcribing is required when you return from the field, and errors are minimised.

There are several variants of the Field Sampling Database as I often rework it for specific applications (eg: vegetation mapping). The most ‘polished’ one is my Lake Sampling Database, downloadable below.

Field sampling database manual

Field sampling database

A few caveats:

  • You will require a modern iOS device, able to run Filemaker Go 13/14 or higher to use this database.
  • iPhones 6, 6+, 7 and 7+ (and future phones with large screens) will have space around the edge of the interface as I haven’t yet bothered developing a layout for these larger screen phones. I’ll update the database when I eventually get an iPhone with a larger screen than my 5s.
  • I have no idea how it will go on an iOS device without GPS capability. I suspect that the coordinate and map functions just won’t work.
  • No support offered. Sorry, but I’ve got other things to work on and Filemaker development is way down my list of priorities.
  • No Android support. Apparently you can get it working over the web interface, but that’s not terribly practical for fieldwork.
  • The manual may occasionally miss stuff that I’ve recently added. So there. 😛


Poster for AQUA (Auckland, 2016) conference: Developing your own custom field database.

Ankor M. (2016, December). Digital Field Notes: How to make your mobile devices work for you. Poster session presented at the biennial meeting of the Australasian Quaternary Association, Auckland, New Zealand.

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